If you have dizziness, vertigo or balance problems, you are not alone. In adults, about half report episodes of these problems to their doctor every year. In fact, among adults 65 or older, falls caused by vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems are the leading cause of injury and death. And it’s not just an issue of the inner ear or sinuses; these problems can be the result of a complex web of neurological, hormonal, immune, mechanical and nutritional problems.
These balance disorders are generally named from the symptoms they cause, like “the room is spinning” (vertigo), a feeling of clumsiness (ataxia), and seeing something that overwhelms the brain and gives the feeling of spinning (visual vertigo). There are also problems where inflammation will cause hearing loss, nausea and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). And of course we all know about the dizziness we get when riding in the back seat of a car.
The secret to improved balance and the freedom it gives you, is realizing that these disorders are a complex interaction of body systems of the brain, vestibular system, and multiple organ function. This is where you truly find the “cause.” Addressing only the middle ear will unfortunately leave most patients with continued symptoms.
In the past, treatment for dizziness and vertigo was limited to the drug Meclizine, a vestibular suppressant that had inconsistent results. But in the last ten years, the understanding of the brain has exploded. This research has shown that dizziness and balance is also related to other conditions such as panic attacks, anxiety, movement disorders, Parkinson’s, essential tremor and brain injury which can predispose premature fall risk. And as this information increased, it has lead to extensive new therapies and treatments.
To properly move through your life without dizziness, three senses must be intact and in very good working order: vestibular (inner ear), vision (shows you where you are in space) and proprioception from the neck (lets you feel where you are in space). Then your brain, using the cerebellum (that wiggly thing at the back of the brain) compiles all that information and creates a 3-D view we can use to jump, run and play. When one or more of the eyes, ears or neck are out of sync (including the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain), we get dizzy—the room begins to spin.
Reconnecting these areas is the only way to effectively solve the dizziness problem. I’ve found that the most successful approach to be functional-neurological rehabilitation—specific exercises that can be thought of as “activations” that re-synchronize the areas of the brain that are underperforming. Using extensive examination procedures like eye movement videography and functional neurological evaluation, and then creating an individualized treatment program that targets those findings leads to the best result possible.
Equally important is setting the stage metabolically so that the neurons involved are not being damaged by inflammation are not running out of fuel, so they can function properly. Essentially, this is a balancing act, making sure that the brain has the proper fuel (glucose and oxygen), the proper activation and the proper environment (no toxins). I can’t stress enough how important it is to investigate all these areas and scientifically design a treatment program that can address any areas of weakness. By implementing dietary alterations and targeted natural supplementation we can provide the support needed to activate weakened brain cells.
All together, the specific neurological activation and the metabolic improvement in the brain environment can bring balance to your body and brain.
Dr. Don Davis is a BOARD CERTIFIED CHIROPRACTIC NEUROLOGIST in Walnut Creek. He has been serving individuals with chronic problems for 30 years. For information about how you can get a free case review consultation, call (925) 279-4324 (HEAL). Visit us at WalnutCreekHealth.com.